The best way to complete the FAFSA is early, and online. October 1st is the soonest you can apply; remember that there are sometimes early deadlines for awards and that awards often consist of limited funding. Complete your taxes early because you’ll need that information, otherwise you can estimate the amounts from previous years and correct the amounts on the form later by going to the corrections page on the FAFSA website.
If you apply online, your application will be processed faster and will likely be more accurate because your application will be processed on the FAFSA website to catch errors. The online application also provides worksheets that will calculate amounts and enter them into the field for you. You can save and continue the FAFSA at any time online and then sign your application electronically using your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID).
Making mistakes on your FAFSA could delay your application and possibly make you lose out on some financial aid. The most common errors people make are listed below. As you complete the FAFSA try to avoid these errors.
Enter a ‘0’ or ‘not applicable’ instead of leaving a blank. Too many blanks may cause miscalculations and an application rejection.
Always round to the nearest dollar.
Check these entries and have someone else check them too. Triple check to be sure.
Obtain your federal income paid amount from your income tax return forms, not your W-2 form(s).
These are not the same figure. In most cases, the AGI is larger than the total income. This mistake is particularly common.
Only write yes if you’re currently married. They want to know what your marital status is on the day you sign the FAFSA, or Renewal FAFSA.
The custodial parent’s marital status is needed; if they’ve remarried, you’ll need the stepparent’s information too.
If you’re unsure about something, find out before you submit your FAFSA instead of leaving it blank. A conviction doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from getting aid.
Obtain the Federal School Code for the college you plan on attending and list it, along with any other schools to which you’ve applied.
If you’re filling out the paper FAFSA, be sure to sign it. If you’re filing electronically, be sure to use your FSA ID which gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature.
Your permanent address is not your campus or summer address.
You will be contacted if your information needs verification; you don’t need to send a copy of your tax returns in with your application.
Much of the financial information you need to provide is on your tax forms. Completing your taxes early can make the application process easier because you’ll have the financial information you need in one place. You can estimate your financial information using previous tax years and correct the amounts on the form later by going to the corrections page on the FAFSA website. If you are not required to file taxes you still have to fill out a FAFSA to get financial aid.
Filling out the Pre-Application Worksheet will help you collect and proofread the information for your application before you submit it. There are resources available if you decide you need assistance filling out the FAFSA, check the FAQ section on the FAFSA website, or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED AID (1-800-433-3243).
Last updated: 11/10/2020